4G LTE Technology: The Good, the Bad, and the Hospitals.

4G LTE Demonstration Let’s just say I was amazed by the Verizon 4G LTE demonstration today at Verizon’s Corporate Office here in Greenville, SC. As I watching them describe and demonstrate the capability…I was thinking, man this is going to change the way we do business.

The 700 Mhz is where the LTE network will exist, the part of the spectrum that will penetrate walls and buildings further than any other part of the spectrum currently in use. Also, the speed of the 4G LTE network is just as fast as my home connection, if not faster than my Charter home network of 8 Mb/s download and 3 Mb/s. Yes…over a wireless connection! The demonstration test using Speedtest.net showed the speed of the 4G LTE card in the laptop was running 14 Mb/s download and 8 Mb/s upload speed…THAT IS FREAKING FAST! Fast enough to do full 720p video calls over the wireless, mobile network…with plenty left over for the video grid demonstration.

My iPhone4 phone with 3G probably is running at roughly 2 Mb/s download speed and 0.3 Mb/s upload speed. So, in the next few months, the Greenville/Spartanburg area will see this new network released with a whole new set of devices tapping into this speed. Many of the major metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Charlotte, LA, New York already have access. 38 markets and 60 airports currently have this network. So what does any of this have to do with healthcare?

First…more connectivity to the grid. Devices will be a part of everyday life in healthcare. ¬†From tablets in emergency departments to ambulances with streaming content/video back and forth, assessment of patient care during transport. This is just one of the areas healthcare will see this change. But here is another, hospital administrators will have a harder time restricting access to the Internet and social platforms.

Yes, many hospitals have been debating whether to “open up the pipes” to employees, allowing them access to Internet sites and social outlets. Two major concerns, bandwidth and employee performance. Well guess what…the hospital’s Internet and ¬†Social Media policy just became harder to write and enforce. LTE technology not only provides speed but also hospital building penetration with the 700 Mhz spot on the spectrum. Yes…it can get through more think walls.

These devices are going to become even more necessary, as a part of the connected network for making diagnoses. Also, who is going to provide these devices to healthcare professionals? Will the hospitals pay part of the bill, splitting it with the professional. Then which part of the content created on the device is owned by the hospital? Then, can the other part can be used for personal reasons?

But let’s put aside the concern over hospital employee productivity. How about the patients and patient families. They will have access to the these devices, speed, network, and the spectrum. Now, they can get online, post pics, maybe do some video over Skype. But with this upgrade to LTE technology…more pictures, videos, and information will be shared inside the walls of the hospital. How about patient privacy? How about the media outlet that dresses up in street clothes, walks into a hospital, and streams video content from inside the walls of the hospital. Now, these are extreme cases to consider…but access to the network and speed will no longer be an issue. And hospitals are not the only major organizations facing this change in accessibility and connectivity.

Yes…LTE technology is going to force us to rethink…A LOT! I know I am going to re-think my current AT&T plan, but it looks like they will be releasing their own LTE network. How about our home Internet providers? Especially given the comparable speeds. And many business will be rethinking their internal policies, what employees can do while at work and what devices they can use.